Women’s Basketball Ties Records in Huntsman


Xiangyao Tang

University of Utah women’s basketball guard Maka Jackson plays against the USC Trojans at the Jon. M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor


In Sunday’s game against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, fans saw the Utes nearly break a school record with an impressive 17 3-pointers to bring home a victory in the Huntsman. The team fell short of the all-time record of 19 3-pointers, which was set in a game against Lipscomb just over a year ago on the same court.

The Utes had seven different players contribute to the 3-pointer statistic, with sophomore Gianna Kneepkens starting the game with two 3-pointers to get the action going. Fellow sophomore Kennady McQueen followed suit with a clean three to add to the tally.

After this first run, the Utes led the Lions 6-4, chasing to grow the gap; the two teams then settled into a back-and-forth, trading points and bringing the score to 12-5. Soon after, freshman Teya Sidberry opted to continue the trend and lent another three to close out the first quarter at 21-12.

Jumping into the second quarter, new transfer Alissa Pili — who showcased her talents in last week’s game against Idaho — extended Utah’s lead with a layup, widening the gap to 25-12. Lions guard Taylor Bell scored a layup in an effort to rope the gap back down to single digits, but McQueen and Kneepkens snapped back as they scored one and two 3-pointers, respectively. Jenna Johnson then stepped up to contribute a couple of free throws, offering the Utes a comfortable 20-point lead going into halftime.

The first half alone saw nine 3-pointers from Utah, with Kneepkens contributing four of them. Although, these shots were not the only impressive stats to emerge from the first two quarters, as the Utes shot a whopping 59% from the floor.

Coming into the third quarter, the Utes jumped back into action, showing that their 20-point lead was not enough for them. Within the first few minutes, McQueen scored another three while Johnson fired off another two 3-pointers to pull the lead up to 32 points, 62-30.

Utah claimed a few more baskets before the run and proved to shake the Lady Lions awake, who after a 10-point streak had the lead down to only 27 points. The Utes responded with another four points to ring out the third quarter at a stunning 71-40 lead.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Utes seemed determined not to let their healthy lead go. Utah and Louisiana traded off baskets to start out, until Pili came through at the halfway mark with another layup to bring their lead back up to a giant 37 points, at 86-49.

The Lady Lions appeared to accept defeat, allowing Utah no more than a 39-point lead as the reds brought it to 88-49. The quarter closed out soon after, handing Utah a massive 99-62 victory at home in the Huntsman.

After such an important win against Southeastern Louisiana, the Utes had only a few days to gear up for their match against No. 16 Oklahoma. Sitting at No. 25 in the Coaches Poll, the Utes went into Wednesday’s game determined to preserve their streak. Throughout the night, fans watched in awe as Utah not only proceeded to flatten Oklahoma, but also achieve a historic record. 

Wednesday’s game saw a school record of 124 points scored by the Utes, as they brought down basketball powerhouse University of Oklahoma 124-78. Three different Utes contributed at least 20 points to the game, as Kneepkens, Pili and McQueen all added their names to the record book.

The game started out similarly to Sunday’s match, with Utah coming hot out of the gate to add 6 points to the board. The lead grew to 9-1 after a layup apiece from Kneepkens, McQueen and Pili, with still eight and a half minutes to go.

Utah’s lead would extend into the double figures after a three from McQueen, though the Sooners fought back to reclaim a few points, bringing it to 24-20. The first quarter ended with a close 26-20 lead for Utah, with 30 minutes left to play.

The Utah defense began to slip in the beginning of the second quarter, before Kneepkens and McQueen retaliated with nine straight points, bringing the Utes back up to 37-27. The lead only continued to grow and reached a peak 15 points as the teams headed into halftime.

As if to show that the first half was only a warm up, the Utes jumped into the third quarter shooting a colossal 70% from the floor, seeking every possible point to extend their lead. Pili offered a layup to start, as the lead breezed to 35 points near the end of the quarter. The quarter ended at 95-57, with the Utes setting a program record of 41 points scored in a single quarter.

Refusing to show any kind of mercy to the Sooners, Kneepkens sent the score soaring over 100 with a three, with help from another Pili layup. Oklahoma would not see the lead become any lower than 30 points through the rest of the match, as another layup by Sidberry brought the Utes to 111 points. After a few more baskets, junior Isabel Palmer closed out the match with seven straight points, bringing the score to a record high of 124-78.

After a record breaking week in the Huntsman, the Utah Women’s Basketball team will look ahead to Monday’s match against the University of Alabama, where they will seek yet another dominating victory.


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